South Carolina went to penalty kicks for the second straight night and once again came out victorious as the No. 2 seed Gamecocks advance to the SEC Championship game for the second consecutive season.
SEC Offensive Player of the Year Kayla Grimsley scored for Carolina in the first half and once again converted the final kick of the shootout to lead South Carolina (14-4-4) past LSU (8-8-5) 4-3 on penalty kicks after drawing 1-1 through 110 minutes of action.
"It was a battle," South Carolina head coach Shelley Smith said. "We controlled a lot of the play. We had a lot of the possession. I thought we did well in the first half to do what we needed to do to get the goal and go up. The second half we couldn't find the net like we wanted to to put the game away. Give LSU credit. Both teams were tired and played a lot the day before. That was the last thing we wanted to do after playing the day before, but we're just glad we're advancing."
Grimsley tied the South Carolina single-season record for points with her goal at 28:46 to take the early lead. The goal was her 12th of the season, which coupled with her 10 assists gives her 34 points to tie the 15-year old record that was set by Jennie Ondo (14 goals, six assists).
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"It's an honor," Grimsley said of the note. "Individual honors are incredible to get on a team sport, but today was incredible. It was a team effort all around. Our work ethic and dedication to each other today was outstanding. We were very positive the whole game and deserved to win. I think that showed. I wish people could have seen it. That individual honor was incredible. She's held that for a long time and it's awesome to tie her. It would be great to pass it, but the only thing right now is to win Sunday, bring Columbia another ring and to host the NCAA Tournament."
The game marks the third straight SEC Tournament game to go to a penalty kick shootout for South Carolina. The Gamecocks defeated LSU (8-7) in last year's title match before advancing past Kentucky last night by a 3-2 margin. The Gamecocks are now 3-7-4 all-time in the SEC Tournament, and all four draws were won by the Gamecocks in penalty kicks (Vanderbilt in 2006 was the other).
Having gone to penalty kicks just one night before, the same five takers went to the mark for the Gamecocks, and four out of five converted. Brittiny Rhoades, Kortney Rhoades and Kelsey Barr put the Gamecocks in position to win it at 3-3 after Mollie Patton was able to save a penalty kick for the second straight night. After the final Tiger sailed her shot high, Grimsley scored the winning kick again to send Carolina into the title match.
South Carolina will play either Florida or Georgia in the final on Sunday at 3 p.m. (ET). The Gators and Bulldogs are the only two teams to defeat South Carolina in the SEC regular season.